Empty classroom

Tulsa World file

Especially in the midst of Oklahoma’s teacher shortage, new teachers are crucial for Oklahoma schools.

This year, nearly 51% of Oklahoma public school teachers were considered novice with less than five years experience in the classroom.

Parents, educational advocates and district officials are understandably nervous about so many new teachers. After all, novice teachers typically lead students to less growth than their more experienced colleagues and leave at higher rates.

Plus, their varied levels of preparation can tax every part of a school system that’s unprepared to onboard and train so many new people.

Despite the public’s hesitancy over new teachers, it’s important to remember that vacancies are the problem, not the teachers who fill them.

If we want to stop the vicious turnover cycle and keep our best new teachers in the classroom, we’ll need more than a pay raise or two.

Novice Oklahoma teachers need support and encouragement to learn to teach, an especially hard job in underfunded and overburdened systems.

Many districts are already stepping up to improve instructional coaching resources and other new teacher training.

Now, it’s time to shift the public narrative to celebrate teachers who step into crucial public roles and fill otherwise empty classrooms.

Regardless of certification, whether a new college graduate or mid-life career changer, each new Oklahoma teacher is filling a critical public role.

Let’s find ways to give a communal round of applause for the long hours and thankless work of the many novice teachers in our state.

Editor's note: Marissa E. King is chief of staff at the Tulsa-based Teaching & Leading Initiative of Oklahoma.

Letters to the editor are encouraged. Send letters to letters@tulsaworld.com.

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